Mason Robertson Photo by Andrew Tat
All Brad Jacobson could do was collapse as the clock hit triple zeros in Corvallis, Ore. In the conference finale of Jacobson’s first and last season on Montlake, the Washington men’s soccer team capped its memorable regular season by clinching the Pac-12 championship.
Jacobson, a senior and transfer from Dartmouth, was one of several first-year players who contributed to the first conference title for the Huskies in more than a decade. Sunday morning, freshman Mason Robertson scored in the 57th minute of the UW’s 1-0 win at Oregon State, the third straight match in which Robertson netted the game-winning goal.
Robertson was offered a contract to play professional soccer in England when he was 15 years old, and head coach Jamie Clark knows the Huskies are lucky to have him.
“You give him a challenge and he wants to take it head on,” Clark said of Robertson, who along with Jacobson is one of five first-year players who have scored for the UW this season. “Guys like this are huge, as they win you the big games.”
Now in his third season as head coach, Clark led the No. 3 Huskies (14-1-4, 7-1-2 Pac-12) to one of the best regular seasons in program history. For the postseason, the UW earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with Sunday’s win and will have home-field advantage until the Final Four if it is given a top-four overall seed.
Top-ranked Notre Dame lost on penalty kicks in the ACC semifinals, so the UW has a good chance to be the No. 1 seed. But no matter their selection, the Huskies know one thing for sure: Three straight wins would propel them to the Final Four in Philadelphia, Pa.
Due to the UW’s first-place finish in a conference that features three of the nation’s top four teams, midfielder James Moberg thinks the Huskies should be given the highest seed.
“I don’t know how you can’t put the winner of the Pac-12 at No. 1,” he said.
The UW was under pressure against Oregon State after No. 2 UCLA won Saturday night to grab a one-point lead in the standings. A tie between the Huskies and Beavers would have caused a co-championship for the UW and UCLA, which had won two straight Pac-12 titles before this season.
One year before Clark took over, the Huskies won just five games. But they’ve been nationally ranked during every season he’s been at the UW, and this year the Huskies are statistically the best offensive and defensive team in the Pac-12.
And they’ve done it without preseason All-American goalkeeper Spencer Richey, who suffered a season-ending injury on Sept. 10. Richey, along with senior defenders Taylor Peay and Michael Harris, committed to play for the Huskies during that five-win season and have restored a long-lost championship tradition at the UW.
“It took them all four years to accomplish this, which made it all that more special,” Clark said. “They will leave the bar at a very high level when their UW careers come to a close. Hopefully that’s still another month away.”
The NCAA selection show is Monday at 9 a.m., when the Huskies will find out who they host in their first-round matchup Thursday.
Reach reporter Justin Lester at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JustinDLester
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